Wednesday, February 9, 2011

An Open Letter to the The Jewish Week, JCC and Foundation for Jewish Culture

As President of Artists 4 Israel, one of the small but vocal critics described in The Jewish Week’s Helping Jews Fight Fair, it is my duty to respond to the concerns expressed within this article.

In full disclosure, I am also a recipient of this same paper’s 36 Under 36 award, an award given, in no small part, for my work in creating an Israeli advocacy organization that is, to paraphrase, “decidedly conservative” in its “ardent defense” of Israel.

There are far too few organizations like Artists 4 Israel. Israel related groups have all adopted the critical, intellectual and righteous approach that their work must rise above petty politics and transcend opinion. These are admirable traits for an individual but not for an organization. In the name of what is, at best, equanimity and fairness, and, at worst, the nefarious sabotage of Israel haters operating like sleeper cells within the ranks of places like the JCC and the Foundation for Jewish Culture, these organizations pose far greater a threat to both Israel and to the honest discourse about Israel than do the organized, delegitimization shock troops who oppose this beautiful country. It is when we fail to call out the liars and apologists that we have “lost all.”

The anti-Israel groups have power, money, organization, strategy and, above all else, a complete lack of the infighting and slavish, guilty need to present all sides of an argument – even when they know one side to be misinformed, lying or created from hate – that characterizes and weakens the Israeli side. By opposing the enemies of Israel with the same fervor and fire that they use to attack it, we benefit all by providing two equal and competing sets of ideas. The definition of fairness is to choose between equals, not to have one side of ideas expressed and the other spilled, suggested and stumbled over. We create an opportunity for honest, unbiased dialogue by openly and proudly proclaiming our viewpoints and the historical facts that support them. To do less is to cede the argument, cede Israel and cede rational, fair, comprehensive discourse. You can be certain that there are no papers or articles within the anti-Israel community suggesting “core values” or “diverse opinions.” Such would get in the way of achieving their goal. A goal we should consider when preparing our response.

Indeed, as the Melton report indicates, the world and young Jews in particular respond best to a full and complete set of ideas. Let us provide them with one more in that set – an open, proud and avowed support for Israel. In our cynical age, the youth are far too aware of pandering and false fairness. They have grown up and tuned out of a Jewish religious culture that equivocated. For those who have re-found a connection through their ancestral homeland and the passionate allure of Zionism, let us not disregard them too with leaders who are uncertain, self-flagellating and cow-towing to any and all ideas before them.

Only then can we begin to repair the wounds of infighting and shape world opinion based on equal and opposing viewpoints.

Those in the Jewish and Israeli advocacy communities that are seeking strong leaders, let them find Artists 4 Israel. We first coined the term "culture war" over two years ago and are, today, actively fighting the BDS and PACBI. We can use your help.

This article posted on behalf of Craig Dershowitz

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